The Queensland Greens have announced a plan to establish a universal, free school breakfast and lunch program in every state primary and secondary school in Queensland.
The total cost of the program would be $374 million a year and would be funded and coordinated by the State Government, covering all staff salaries, foodstuffs, equipment and transportation, to ensure no school is left worse off. The program would be funded by the Greens’ plan to increase royalties for mining corporations, which will raise an extra $55 billion over four years.
The breakfasts and lunches would adhere to the Australian Dietary Guidelines outlined by the Australian Government to ensure every child has access to a healthy breakfast and lunch.
The Greens would also establish a $1.2 billion capital grant fund so state schools can invest in basic infrastructure like fridges as well as expanding kitchen space or eating areas.
A report by Curtin University found that Queensland has the highest rate of child poverty Australia, with 18.5% of children living in poverty - increasing from 15.2% in 2009/10. Queensland also has the highest rate of poverty for children under 5, at 21.4% - increasing from 16.5% in 2009/10.
Foodbank Australia estimates that 20% of students go to school without eating breakfast.
Michael Berkman Greens MP for Maiwar:
“In a state where mining corporations have exported over $480 billion worth of resources in the last 10 years, it’s unacceptable that child poverty has increased to 18.5%.
“With rising unemployment and a once in a generation recession we need to act now to save a generation of kids from crushing poverty.
“Kids can’t learn if they don’t eat and right now 170,000 Queensland kids go to school every day without eating breakfast, while hundreds of thousands more don’t get enough to keep them full during the day.
“The Greens will make sure every state school student eats a healthy breakfast and lunch to save parents money, improve attendance, concentration and grades, and ensure every Queensland kid gets the best chance in life regardless of their circumstances.
“Victoria now runs a free breakfast program in over 1,000 schools, while the NSW Government has a similar program in 500 schools - meanwhile the Queensland Government is freezing royalties for mining corporations while leaving hundreds of thousands of kids to suffer terrible poverty.
“We’ve heard a few multinational mining corporations complain about our proposal to increase royalties. Well here’s the deal - we’ll stop pushing to raise royalties when child poverty hits zero.”